How to Prepare a Mission Statement

Four Parts:Preparing to Write the StatementWriting the StatementRefining the StatementSample Mission Statements

A mission statement is a brief summary of an organization’s goals and objectives. Most companies, clubs, or nonprofits will have a mission statement indicating commitment and dedication regarding the services they hope to offer. You can write a clear and useful mission statement through a careful process of preparation, drafting, and revising.

Part 1
Preparing to Write the Statement

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    Start early. A mission statement provides your organization with a framework and purpose. Therefore, it should be one of the first things that you create. It will be much easier to attract good employees and serious investors if you have a solid mission statement.[1]
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    Work in a group. Conceiving a mission statement should not be a solitary endeavor. You need multiple points of view to make sure that you don’t miss anything important while drafting your mission statement. Even if you employ only yourself, you should get an outside perspective from a relative or friend who is familiar with your business and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you operate a small business or nonprofit, work with your business partner or partners.[2]
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    Set aside at least several hours to work on the statement. Good mission statements are critical for any well-run organization. You will need to set aside enough time to produce a high-quality finished product. Two to three hours should be the minimum. A full day may be safest, depending on how big your organization is and how many people are working on the statement.[3]
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    Find a quiet place to work. Make sure that wherever you meet to write your mission statement is quiet and as free from distractions as possible. Consider making everyone involved turn their phones off until you’ve finished. Make sure everyone who isn't involved know that you’re not to be disturbed until you’re done.[4]
    • Have plenty of pens, pencils, and scrap paper available, as well as ample food and drink. This way you can ensure that the people involved in your group don’t wander off to get any of those items during the writing process.

Part 2
Writing the Statement

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    Stimulate discussion with sample mission statements. Obtain mission statements of successful organizations that are similar to yours. Examine them carefully. Ask each member or your group their opinion on what these sample statements do well, and what they don’t do well. Your finished mission statement doesn’t have to mimic your competitors’ statements. But by looking at a few samples you can help your group members brainstorm new ideas that might work for your organization.[5]
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    Define your target customer. Focus on who you want to buy your product. Do your best to imagine yourself from the customer’s perspective. Determine what your company provides that none of your competitors do. You should also spend time figuring out how your customer will find you. By thinking through the “why to buy,” you will start off on the right foot.[6]
    • If you run a club that charges membership dues, figure out what your organization provides for its members that no other similar club does.
    • If you run a nonprofit or charity that engages directly with the community, consider speaking with members of the community to get a better idea about how your organization can serve them best. You can hold town hall meetings or meet with important community members such as ministers, teachers, or businesspeople.[7]
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    Emphasize the good you do. Whether your organization is for-profit or non-profit, you should mention the positive impact that you have. Doing so can help improve your position in the market. Mentioning how your business takes care of its employees by offering incentives no one else does, for instance, can help you attract higher-quality job applicants.[8]
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    Stay goal-oriented. Your mission statement will be a continual reminder of what your organization is trying to achieve. Therefore, a statement that articulates a clear goal is much more useful than a vague-sounding statement that doesn’t say very much. Stating “We seek to make clean water available to everyone in the developing world” or “We seek to make finding a good mechanic as easy as possible” is a good way to lay out your vision for your organization in the first sentence and build on that in the sentences that follow, if there are any.[9]
    • Go as big as possible when articulating your goal. Doing so can help you create a sense of team spirit among your employees by setting a unifying objective.[10] It can also help you be more memorable, whether to your customers, investors, or potential employees. This doesn’t mean you can feel free to overshoot and make wildly unrealistic or inaccurate claims about what your organization does. It simply means that you should do your best to lay out your organization’s overall vision in your mission statement.
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    Avoid jargon. Potential employees and investors may get turned off by mission statements full of long buzzwords that sound impressive but don’t mean much. Words like “paradigm,” “empowerment,” and “commitment” might work against you by making your mission statement sound vague. Remember that if you don’t have a very clear idea of what your organization does after reading the statement, you need to revise the statement.[11]
    • Lots of businesses, particularly large corporations, use buzzwords in their mission statements. So by avoiding such language, you can stand out from the pack.
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    Be concise. You should be able to read your mission statement in no more than 15-30 seconds. Some non-profit leaders even advocate sticking to no more than one sentence.[12][13] While your mission statement doesn’t have to be that short, it should be no longer than absolutely necessary.
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    Use multiple drafts. Start with a first draft that is a full paragraph long. Then cut everything you don’t need until you can’t cut any more. Use as many rounds of editing as necessary. Again, your goal should be to make the statement no longer than it absolutely needs to be.

Part 3
Refining the Statement

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    Involve even more people. If you already have customers and suppliers, ask for their feedback on the mission statement. See if they would want to do business with a company that used such a statement. If your organization is a nonprofit that sought community feedback in the early stages of the drafting process, go back to those community members to see what they think.[14][15]
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    Take your time with the revision process. You shouldn’t start using your mission statement until you’re confident that it does exactly what you want it to do. Set aside however much time you think you’ll need to refine and build your mission statement. This can be a few days or even several weeks.
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    Use the statement as widely as you can once you’ve finished revising. Post the statement everywhere you think it might be useful. Include it on your organization’s letterhead, for instance, or as signature lines on your emails. Put the statement on your website in such a way that it’s the first thing people see when they visit that site. You can even give away merchandise like T-shirts with the statement emblazoned on them. Make sure that people know exactly what your company stands for.[16]
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    Don’t change the mission statement once it’s done unless you absolutely have to. Your mission statement should be one of the most public parts of your organization. Since it lays out your overall vision and goal, you should avoid making changes to it even if details about how your organization operates change over time. Rather, you should only change your mission statement if your organization pivots to a totally different model or goal.

Sample Mission Statements

Sample Health Care Mission Statement

Sample New Business Mission Statement

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Categories: Official Writing and Complaints